Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer's chief executive, said today that the retail giant had “bench strength” in its management team as he showcased the latest phase of the high street giant’s recovery plan.
In an X Factor-style speech which had no fewer than 15 references to M&S’s “journey”, Bolland claimed its new management team, including style director Belinda Earl, formerly of Debenhams, and former Estée Lauder executive Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, who runs business development at M&S, showed “we have bench strength across the management, its not just a three- or four-man band”.
M&S posted its smallest profits since 2009 this spring, but Bolland claimed that two years into its resuscitation plan M&S had “seen substantive turnarounds, including in food and online”. He said the new womenswear range, featuring leather skirts and with 90% of dresses having sleeves “due to popular demand”, was “not make or break” but was about direction.
Bolland set out plans for better store lay-outs, saying brands such as Per Una had previously “made the rest of womenswear look like the orphan in the room”.
He said M&S had also trained 10,000 womenswear staff via a “fashion camp”. That’s on top of the expensive-looking ad campaign featuring Dame Helen Mirren and Tracey Emin, but in response to analyst concerns, Bolland said it had been cheaper than a normal autumn/winter campaign as it focused on print, outdoor and digital, not TV.